Ladies, we need to talk about our vaginas
The truth is that most of us feel too embarrassed to talk about vaginal health let alone dryness due to menopause. Many of my readers have probably suffered from vaginal itching, soreness and dryness at some point in their lives but only one out of every three women seek medical help and there is a still quite a taboo attached to the topic.
Vaginal dryness is one of the most common symptoms of the menopause but ironically one of the least talked about. Of course, it is more embarrassing to talk about dry vaginas than hot flushes, but vaginal dryness is even more annoying, and can probably cause more problems. I have spoken to so many women and the majority are just putting up with their symptoms and suffering in silence. That can have a really negative impact on self-esteem and intimate relationships. A woman approached me some time ago and said that she was 48 and had a younger boyfriend. She was very conscious about feeling dry during sex which has brought me to talk about the silent suffering that so many women are going through.
Vaginal dryness is a hallmark sign of the genitourinary syndrome of menopause, also known as atrophic vaginitis or vaginal atrophy. This condition arises when vaginal tissues become thinner and more easily irritated — caused by the natural decline in your body’s oestrogen levels during menopause. Normally, the walls of the vagina stay constantly lubricated with a thin layer of clear fluid. The hormone oestrogen helps maintain that fluid level and keeps the lining of your vagina healthy, thick, and elastic. A drop in oestrogen levels reduces the amount of moisture available. It can happen at any age from a number of different causes. Every woman is different and these changes can take months or years to develop. Many women first notice dryness during sex as the vagina may shrink a little and expand less easily making intercourse uncomfortable or even painful.
Sometimes when it starts, it may seem like a minor irritation. But the lack of vaginal moisture can have a huge impact on your sex life, your self-esteem and wellbeing. Fortunately, several treatments are available to relieve vaginal dryness.
We are living longer and as a result many of us will spend a third of our lives being post-menopausal. Vaginal dryness is a lasting symptom (because of what happens, it’s a permanent change of the tissue) of the menopause that carries on into post menopause and so we have to take care of our intimate health and show our vaginas some TLC!
My Top Tips
Communicate Dryness can be a very difficult subject to aproach especially with your husband or partner. But communication is key to understanding, even if it is uncomfortable at first. Once you both get past the initial awkwardness, the conversation can be very rewarding as you talk about how are you feeling and the effects your symptoms may be having on your relationship.
Use a lubricant I would recommend Motion Lotion which is my natural lubricant made in the UK, it’s organic, vegan and bio-sustainable. You can get either the oil-based lube or the water-based one, but both will give you an extra super silky texture. Due to falling oestrogen levels, the vaginal tissues are very sensitive. Motion Lotion is kind and gentle to delicate tissues, and pH friendly, non-drying, hormone and paraben free. You can buy it here.
Use appropriate intimate care products Use products with the right pH for your vaginal area and avoid using douches, bubble baths, scented soaps, and lotions around the sensitive vaginal area. These products can worsen dryness.
Medication The most common treatment for vaginal dryness due to low oestrogen levels is topical oestrogen therapy. These replaces some of the hormone your body is no longer making. That helps relieve vaginal symptoms, but it doesn’t put a high quantity of oestrogen in your bloodstream as the hormone therapy you would take in pills.